Dr. Kimiyo Hoshi was secretly the Japanese super-heroine known as Hikari, which translates as Light. In this role, including her time as the second Doctor Light, the brilliant head of the Tsukuba Science Institute had encountered other costumed beings, aliens, and even magical monsters. However, as the attractive young woman in the red designer suit and heels by Rei Kawakubo made her way through crowds of bizarrely costumed men, women, and children, she felt especially out of place.
Clearly, defending my country from hostile super-criminals has not prepared me for the strange world of manga! she thought as she looked around the brightly decorated store known as Planetary Plaza and tried to accustom herself to all she saw. I am certainly no stranger to manga, she thought as she watched the happy passersby enjoy the collections and displays of the art form they cherished. After all, Jiro was obsessed with it since our earliest days together at college. Still, my work and personal preferences precluded my attending such frantic gatherings with him.
Manga was the term given to the illustrated publications so popular in Japan. Americans referred to them as comic-books or graphic novels, but by any term she had always scorned such immature publications with their violence, vulgarity, and simplistic plots. But all her ex-husband Jiro Hoshi had cared about was buying the comics or spending his days with his manga circle. In fact, to her astonishment, Jiro’s artistic gifts had never motivated him to do more than work at the large manga shop known as Planetary Plaza.
“I will become famous one day when my creations are loved by readers around the globe!” Jiro had insisted. “Perhaps they will become stars of the anime as well!”
This argument had been the central theme of many of their fights, and now, after their divorce and sessions of personal anger management on her part, Dr. Hoshi felt as if she could achieve some type of closure by bringing their children Yasu and Imako to see their father in his chosen work environment.
Kimiyo nodded slowly as she spotted the largest booth at the crowded store. Perhaps his dreams have truly reached fruition, she thought.
The biggest booth was owned by Jiro himself. She smiled in spite of herself as she saw how animated he was as he greeted customers and admirers, and lines formed to have him sign his creations. Jiro’s Sora or Sky Girl is truly becoming a success! she realized.
She smiled and moved forward as her children waved to her. Yasu and Imako were perched on chairs on each side of their father. They were excited and happy to be with him.
Once I would have begrudged Jiro their company and their obvious affection, she mused. His manic good humor always appealed to them and, admittedly, to me when I first met him. He will never change, and now I think I may be able to accept him as he is. He is still a necessary counterbalance to my own more serious demeanor. Admitting as much would have been beyond me before my therapy.
She referred to a series of anger management classes that she had enrolled in following an encounter she’d had in her original identity as the second Doctor Light. Superman himself had helped her drive off the villainous Dr. Arthur Light, and she had changed her heroic name to the Japanese Hikari. She had also accepted the Man of Steel’s wise suggestion that she needed professional help to deal with past stresses in her life. (*) I wasted so much time blaming father for mother’s death, she thought. I have gained so much from the sessions I have already had.
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Comics Presents: Superman and Doctor Light: Reflections and Refractions.]
Kimiyo noticed other people were dressed as their favorite manga characters, and once more she felt out of place. Some were dressed as the many magical girl archetypes that populated the world of manga, while others were more monstrous in appearance, reflecting other genres.
I was foolish to wear this outfit here. Perhaps I have become too much of the professional and have lost much of what once was the more approachable Kimiyo. She smiled as she thought, I could have come in my Hikari role, and few would have noticed me. Even a brilliantly glowing woman would not attract much attention among such colorful crowds!
Before she could move, she found herself smothered in a crushing embrace by a younger girl in a costume and wig. “Yuki!” she said. “I am pleased to see you, but I little expected you to be out of one costume and into another!”
Yuki Tanobi began to chatter in her customary manner, and Kimiyo fought her own customary irritation. I thought Yuki was an improvement over her sister Yoko, she thought, but while I cannot fault the girl as a caregiver for the children, her incessantly perky manner is still grating to me.
“Dr. Hoshi, do you see my costume?” said Yuki. “I’m Sora! Mr. Hoshi asked me to be Sky Girl herself!”
Jiro approached as he took a brief break from his signing and led the kids forward to greet their mother. “Now, Kimiyo, do not scold Yuki. She was in her very proper and attractive sailor fuku uniform when she brought our little ones here. I implored her to fill in for one of my co-workers who was supposed to represent Sora today. She kindly agreed, and she has done a delightful job in the role.”
Yuki worked for a childcare agency, or babysitting service as Americans would call it. As a nanny, the young girl was a natural, and Yasu and Imako adored her. She and her co-workers normally wore the brightly decorated nautical-themed school uniforms or sailor fuku that were so common among school-age children. This practice had made the nannies of the Miyake Educational Group popular and had made the new business a success. Now, Yuki wore something entirely different.
“My uniform is in the back room,” said Yuki. “Don’t you love my Sora look? The wig is awesome!”
She now wore a vivid blue wig with neatly trimmed bangs and a long back. Her costume consisted of an equally vivid blue shirt with a pleated skirt and matching boots. A short cape of white was swung over one shoulder.
“You look charming,” said Kimiyo. “Are you pleased with Yuki’s costume?”
Little Yasu chirped his approval and clasped his mother’s hand. “She is Sora!” he yelled. “She can fly and lift trains!”
Jiro grinned boyishly and said, “Sora is going to make us rich! I have negotiations in the works for her use in the anime as well.”
“I am pleased for you,” said Kimiyo. “You love your art, and that passion has led you to prosperity.”
Jiro nodded eagerly and said, “Thank you. Maybe even you will be proud of me someday.”
Kimiyo hesitated as the emotions behind his words washed over her. There was bitterness as well as a bit of regret and, perhaps, hope. He actually did care about her opinion.
But as she smiled distractedly, Kimiyo failed to realize that she was being watched from afar.
“The power within that one is nearly palpable. Prepare to secure the target now,” said a sinister woman who observed the convention through sophisticated scanners aboard a cloaked craft. Shadowy figures moved to instantly obey their cruel mistress.